Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

What is a cleft lip?

A cleft lip is a split that appears in the lip on one or both sides of the mouth and may extend to the roof of the mouth (palate). This common congenital deformity (birth defect) occurs when lips are forming in the fetus, usually during weeks four to seven of pregnancy. A baby born with a cleft lip or palate may be born with other inherited conditions, or may otherwise be perfectly healthy.

Cleft lip is easily recognizable at birth and is treatable, usually through a series of surgical procedures.

Who is at risk of a cleft lip?

It is not well understood how the condition is caused other than by some combination of genetic and environmental factors, and there is no known way to prevent it. The risk is higher, however, in Asian, Latino, and Native American babies, and may be more likely if a sibling, parent or relative had it.

The risk may also increase if the mother and unborn baby are exposed to:

  • Viruses
  • Chemicals
  • Certain medications (such as anti-seizure drugs and acne medicine with Accutane)

Aside from the social discomfort and isolation of having a facial deformity, a child with cleft lip or palate may have difficulty eating and speaking, and may also be more prone to ear infections, hearing problems, and even problems with the teeth.

Diagnosis and testing of cleft lip

Some congenital deformities such as cleft lip can be diagnosed in utero (while the baby is still in the womb) via ultrasound testing.


Reconstructive Surgery Procedures

Reconstructive plastic surgery helps restore form or function to a body part due to injury, infection, disease, tumor, or congenital abnormalities (birth defects).

Oral And Maxillofacial Implantology


Genetics and Risk Assessment

Genetic evaluation is becoming an important part of personalized care, as many health conditions have a genetic basis and genetic test results can help to guide medical decisions. Our genetic counselors provide consultations related to cancer genetics, cardiovascular genetics and prenatal genetics.

Oral Care

Main Line Health dentists and oral surgeons can help you keep a healthy smile for a lifetime by visiting one of our locations throughout the Philadelphia area.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Many people think of plastic surgery as purely cosmetic, but there’s a lot more to this surgical specialty. Plastic surgeons often do reconstructive procedures that can rebuild body parts after an injury or illness.